Academic journals: International Journal of Heritage Studies

Journal Summary: The International Journal of Heritage Studies (IJHS) is the interdisciplinary academic, refereed journal for scholars and practitioners with a common interest in heritage. The Journal encourages debate over the nature and meaning of heritage as well as its links to memory, identities and place. Articles may include issues emerging from Heritage Studies, Museum Studies, History, Tourism Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Memory Studies, Cultural Geography, Law, Cultural Studies, and Interpretation and Design.

Publisher: Routledge

Website: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjhs20/current

Access: Subscription; some open access

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

The enduring love affair with railway design

As a nation, despite our grumbling about the state of the railway system and its operation, deep down we seem collectively to continue to have a close affection for ideas of design in the railways in Britain. Quite apart from the engineering aspects of the railway, rolling stock, engines and the perceived romanticism of bygone rail travel, the architecture and form of the infrastructure and the visual communication methods deployed by the rail companies themselves continue to have a distinct ‘heritage’ aesthetic, even when newly created. There has long been a tradition in railway advertising of using historic sites at locations which the railway served or passed by.

This has been seen most recently in advertising campaign rolled out by GWR – itself a relaunched heritage brand harking back to the days before British Rail (also a distinct heritage brand with a very strong design heritage). The advertising seen across the rail network in the west of England and in the London termini have drawn on the classic childrens’ literature aesthetic centred around Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to create a sense of adventure, discovery, social relations, holidays and the idea of it being fun to travel by rail. Various buildings and landscapes across the south west have been depicted as well, producing an interesting layering of heritage messages and associations with this form of travel

Academic journals: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Urban Design and Planning

Journal summary: Urban Design and Planning publishes refereed papers and short articles addressing the design and planning of the built environment, emphasizing the interfaces between urban policy, design, construction and management.
Topics covered by the journal include social, economic and environmental aspects of topics such as sustainable settlements, community regeneration, urban infrastructure and transport systems.

Publisher: Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) Publishing

Website: https://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/journal/jurdp

Access: Subscription; some open-access

Journal type: Academic & professional peer-reviewed

From transit to tapas and trinkets

Coal Drops Yard has now opened behind King’s Cross Station, London. Whilst snagging jobs are still being completed, and with retail units still to fill, the site remains a work in progress in a rebirth that has seen the area’s legacy of historic buildings change from hosting goods yards and activities associated with the railways and canals, to retail and catering outlets at the ‘craft’ and ‘high end’ of the commercial spectrum. New architectural interventions have been added, such as the striking new roof over the west side of the coal yard, and in fully redundant plots brownfield redevelopment is seeing new office and retail blocks with strong design signatures distinctly of their time. Residential blocks combine old and new forms, including the striking Gas Holder blocks of flats.

Following the successful heritage-led redevelopments previously of the main King’s Cross and St. Pancras Stations, the whole area is now a fascinating amalgam of old and new, and epitomises our shifting relationship with places of transit which now tempt us to dwell longer rather than pass through.

Palace of Holyroodhouse Official Guide at 80 years old. #heritageguides

holyroodabbeyguide1937-coverOne of my top Christmas presents this year was the 1937 Office of Works guidebook to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. [The present giver was rather pleased as the publication year matched their own birth date.]

holyroodabbeyguide1937-contentsThe guidebook is interesting for a number of reasons, not least as it is more comprehensive than later editions (such as the guides of 1950 and 1968), running to a weighty 160 pages, with six chapters of wider ‘historical sketch’ putting the Palace into context.

It was authored by the Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell, who is described colourfully in the ODNB [link behind subscription paywall] as having “…a charming, if too facile, pen, but such remarkable versatility precluded deep research.”  Not so, perhaps, in this extensive guide for the visitor.   He held Rhind lectureships in archaeology at Edinburgh in 1893 and 1911, was President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland between 1900–13, and chaired the National Library of Scotland from 1925–32.  He died, aged 92, in the year that the guidebook was published.

holyroodabbeyguide1937-int-iiThe guidebook is notable also for its textured cover (unlike many other Office of Works guides of the period), and inclusion of a number of pages of advertising. This includes a quirky insight into what may be considered an important part of the tourist itinerary for Edinburgh at the time – a coach tour of the town, taking in “..several outstanding places of historical interest, such as …University and Royal Infirmary..” !

holyroodabbeyguide1937-int-iThe back cover features an advertisement for classic examples of Scottish confectionery, highlighting Edinburgh Rock (available in Tartan).

holyroodabbeyguide1937-ivTwenty thousand copies of this edition of the Official Guide were published.

 

Walking the walk

The best way to explore heritage close up is, of course, on foot.  Heritage explorers typically spend more time looking up at the buildings, sites and features around them than looking down at the ground, but a new site recently launched in the US, and featured on the architectural design newsletter Curbed, is encouraging us to consider the history which our feet are padding across.

 

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“Plan of the City of Toronto,” 1909, using color and hatching to show different types of pavement.  (Toronto Reference Library)

Historic Pavement, developed by Robin B. Williams, Ph.D., Chairman, Architectural History department, Savannah College of Art and Design is setting out to document the remarkable diversity of historic street and sidewalk pavement design in America. It’s quirky and great – and in the About section, I am particularly thrilled that a fellow heritage fanatic was inspired by oddities when young. (I should admit that I spent hours, aged 6 or 7, creating a primary school project on the varied design of lamp-posts in my home town).

Here in the UK, Historic England (then English Heritage) ran a campaign over a decade ago, entitled Streets for All, which looked on a regional level at the management of streets holistically to make the most of the historic features and design which ‘modern’ highway management often made a mess of.  Pavement design and materials were considered in this work, along with wider street furniture (benches, signs, barriers) – and it is interesting or depressing (depending on your point of view) to see which bits of advice and guidance have been followed or ignored in the period since.

 

street-furnitureThe formalities of street design and management is all well and good (see the English Government’s current Department for Transport guidance), but aesthetics of the places we spend time wandering along are important – this is reflected in the more recent guidance produced to support Listing criteria, on Street Furniture.

 

I am reminded again, therefore, to spend time looking up and down.